Katharine Hayhoe just testified before Congress

Speaking of climate change… This is a great article summarizing some of the issues when talking about the environment in Christian circles and how the answer is in focusing on the values we agree on.


@Randy Katharine is an MK too. Her dad taught at a Christian school in Colombia for a while when she was young.

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Those rebel MKs!

Just listened to her TED talk. She not only is ready to quash the typical climate change denial tropes. She seems like the best salesperson going for selling the cure for an ill climate. More than that she has practical advice to others who want to effectively promote the same.

Does the thermometer give us a different answer depending on if we’re liberal or conservative? Of course not. But if that thermometer tells us that the planet is warming, that humans are responsible and that to fix this thing, we have to wean ourselves off fossil fuels as soon as possible – well, some people would rather cut off their arm than give the government any further excuse to disrupt their comfortable lives and tell them what to do. But saying, “Yes, it’s a real problem, but I don’t want to fix it,” that makes us the bad guy, and nobody wants to be the bad guy. So instead, we use arguments like, “It’s just a natural cycle.” “It’s the sun.” Or my favorite, “Those climate scientists are just in it for the money.”


I get that at least once a week. But these are just sciencey-sounding smoke screens, that are designed to hide the real reason for our objections, which have nothing to do with the science and everything to do with our ideology and our identity.

@Alan_V, I think there are great recommendations for how to talk about climate change in ways that motivate a desire to act.


According to climatologist Michael Mann, different people respond to different ways of discussing the issue of climate change. Personally, I am good with information but bad with heart-to-heart discussions. Therefore I leave those to people like Katharine Hayhoe.


Thanks for this TED talk, @MarkD . Dr Hayhoe definitely seems to have the right tack.

I just listened to an NPR talk about the importance of having similar traits to those you treat medically, so you can communicate better (those who were from the same ethnic or religious background got much better results in patient compliance). The setting was in medicine, but it seems to be the case everywhere.

The thing that frightens me a bit is that we seem to be unable to overcome our prejudices; but be that as it may, it seems that those who kindly overcome their prejudices in explaining things to us (such as Dr Hayhoe) by identifying with us, may be able to open our shells a crack, and encourage us to learn more.

I remember a very conservative (religiously) friend of mine who told me that years ago, he would not talk with someone of any other belief system, because his family believed Paul preached against it. However, a more open minded man who helped him take time off from his residency when his wife was ill opened his mind to the fact that there are others whose influence is good.


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Yes, Dr Hayhoe does seem to have that capacity. But she admits that it is something she seems to be able to do more effectively with people who share her worldview and value system. I think it had to do with the ready resistance we have for taking in information which contradicts what we already believe. In those instances it makes sense that trust would make a difference to successful communication.

It doesn’t mean your facility with the information isn’t useful, but then I’m disposed to be concerned about climate change already. But it may mean you’re likely to meet with more resistance to reconsidering settled opinions by people not disposed to trust you.

I shared your reaction at least initially. I didn’t think of it as prejudice so much as a kind of tribalism. Maybe a perfectly homogenous society is too much to hope for. When you think about it isn’t it amazing how a large a society we can coexist in? No other vertebrate can match us. But it doesn’t really surprise me that much. It is hard to know so many people as we do well enough for it not to get stressful. I suppose subgroups which work at aligning interests and values would help with that. I haven’t studied such things but it does strike me as reasonable.


But this really isn’t about whether people trust me. It is about whether they trust the consensus of thousands of scientists worldwide, who have made millions of observations which all led to one, consistent picture of human-caused global warming, or whether they trust the people who contradict the science because of vested economic and political interests.

Exactly. They suffer cognitive dissonance between what these experts are saying and what they already believe which is more comforting. Some are dug in like a tic and wouldn’t if it was their best friend or spouse who brought it up. But I think Dr. Hayhoe is exactly right about human nature and how this is working against our doing the right thing for future generations.

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Human psychology is one of the biggest barriers to tackling climate change. We are not well-equipped to deal with large, abstract, slow-moving, complex, technical problems, especially when they arise as the result of our own outstanding successes. We intended to do ourselves and others good by creating our remarkable, technological society. How can we now be the bad guys in all this? So yes, there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance to overcome, including the feeling that our own individual efforts couldn’t make any real difference.


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